“You accept things as they are, not as you wish they were in this moment. This is important to understand. You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.” Deepak Chopra
Before making any sort of changes or improvements in our lives, we first have to accept reality as it currently is. Acceptance seems counterintuitive to some people, because they think of acceptance as being synonymous with acquiescence or passivity. However, acceptance is not the act of submitting to things as they are and giving up any pursuit of betterment. Acceptance is simply the acknowledgement of our current circumstances, an honest appraisal of reality as it currently exists. And without this honest appraisal, it is impossible to take any sort of action to improve our situation.
For example, if my relationship with my teenager is currently on rocky ground, I must accept this fact before I can take any steps to strengthen that relationship. That is, if I try to talk myself into believing that the relationship is fine instead of accepting that my relationship with my child is currently in a bad place, I won’t take any steps to improve the relationship. Why would I? Because I haven’t accepted the reality of the damaged relationship, I won’t believe that there is anything to improve…so, I will make no effort to improve it.
Although acceptance of our current situations is critical to progress, accurate assessments of our circumstances can be challenging. As in the relationship example above, there might be considerable pain associated with honestly acknowledging the challenges we face. So, instead, we rationalize or ignore those challenges altogether. We might also be so focused on other things, things we’ve deemed more important than the challenging situation, that we don’t recognize how bad things have actually gotten.
In order to help ensure that we have an accurate picture of our current reality we need to take the time to honestly assess what is going on around us and within us. We need to question our initial perceptions of situations we encounter by asking ourselves how else the situation could be perceived. Also, before having a conversation with someone about something important, we need to take time to think about and truly understand the situation from both our and the other person’s perspective. In this way, we can address the causes of the problem rather than the symptoms.
So, as you go through your day, I encourage you to take some time every now and then to check in with your current circumstances. What is going on around you? What thoughts are in your mind? What emotions are you experiencing? What is the internal state of your body (e.g., muscle tension, rapid breathing)? Whatever you encounter, whatever the answers you come up with, accept those answers…accept your reality. Once you have…and ONLY once you have…progress is possible.